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What does a Web Developer do?

By R. Kayne
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A web developer is an individual or a company that provides services to build and maintain high-end websites. An individual who does this job is likely to have skills that are more expansive than that of a webmaster, who might be a simple end-user using ready-made scripts to patch together a personal website. A developer is generally capable of writing custom scripts to accommodate a client’s needs, and is either professionally trained in, or has ample personal experience working with, various scripting languages.

In most cases, a web developer builds a website from the bottom up, fashioning everything from the home page to site layout and function. A good developer takes into account the client’s products or services along with the target market to create a website that will have specific appeal to that market. The site should also showcase the products or services in such a way that is not only promotional, but dynamic, stressing advantages over the competition.

Websites should look great and remain fully functional regardless of the Web browser being used to view the site. The person who builds it typically checks pages and forms using the top browsers to check for interoperability. He or she is also likely to build in features so that, if an element doesn't show up as designed on a site, the page is still usable.

Easy navigation is a key element in any high-traffic website. Few things are more frustrating to visitors than sites that are laid out illogically, or products that are difficult to find. Implementing a visually appealing webscape that is user-friendly, along with an effective search engine, is one way the Web developer ensures visitors will enjoy their visit and quickly get to products of interest. Interactive pages that display items of related interest dependent on click values, helps to entice visitors to stick around while potentially boosting sales revenue.

The developer must also make sure that forms work properly. There are various scripting languages that can be used to create surveys, contests, and sales mechanisms — the means to securely transfer information between visitors and the website, although browser settings for cookies and scripts can hamper the proper functioning of some Web forms. The developer takes all of this into consideration so that, when a visitor fills in a form, he or she is sure to get satisfaction, and not have the form “hang” or “reappear blank” upon clicking the “send” button. A site that is broken doesn’t look good for the business.

In many cases today, web developers are firms with teams of professionals that specialize in different areas of web development and online commerce. While a webmaster may still be all that's needed for smaller sites, a corporation that wants a custom Web presence and slick applications written with the newest scripts using the latest technology are best served by a qualified developer.

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Discussion Comments
By anon248564 — On Feb 17, 2012

In web development, experience and portfolio is king. A good portfolio and history to show will weigh incomparably higher compared to any kind of degree or certification, especially 'all in one' web developers are highly sought, because they are harder to find.

By anon162058 — On Mar 22, 2011

@reader888: Your husband will need more than his opinions and ideas on other people's websites to become a web developer!

He will need to be able to write the code that the browser interprets into what you see on your screen. When on any website, right click over the page and select 'view source'. This is the HTML code (and also javascript if used) that is what creates the web page.

After losing my previous job I started learning HTML in my spare time from tutorials online and not long after, managed to get myself a place at university doing a web development degree.

You can potentially get into the industry without a qualification, but you will need to learn lots of stuff off your own back and it can be difficult to get companies to take notice without any previous experience (which is why i went to uni); this is where having a good portfolio of work will help!

If you're genuinely interested then get learning how to write the script and create some sites of your own! --DL

By reader888 — On Feb 20, 2011

My husband is interested in becoming a web developer. He has so many great ideas. When he's online he's always telling me how he thinks different websites could be improved, and showing me which ones work well.

I think this would be a great career for him. How do you go about getting started in something like this?

By jlmk — On Feb 19, 2011

I have a friend who is a web developer. I think it's great that there are people who are willing to do the job, because it's definitely not for everyone.

When he starts talking about work, I don't understand a thing he says. But I've seen some of the sites that he has built and they are amazing. I think it takes a lot of talent to be able to do something like that.

By geronimo8 — On Feb 18, 2011

With the way people do so much business online now, I would think that web page development would be a great career path to follow. It must be a position that's high in demand. Everyone wants to have a great website that will bring their company a ton of business. If you can provide that website to someone, that's great!

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